Marathon Training Week #3 – Going the extra mile…or 2.5…

Marathon Training Week #3
Marathon Training Week #3

It was a rather trying week this past week.  I went in for my procedure for my skin cancer and came out of that feeling good, but drained.  I was given the okay by the doctor to start running again the day after I went in for it, so that was at least uplifting.  I don’t like being down for the count and I wasn’t going to let anything slow me down.  Not even a little pain in my head.

That being said, the procedure went well, and despite the weather’s best efforts, I was able to modify my training program to fit in between storms, life, and just an overall hectic schedule.  And, my favorite moment of the week was my Saturday run, which I did with my group in Louisville.  A good friend of mine, Matthew, ran with me for the entire way.  We are both pretty directionally challenged, and we took what we call the “scenic route” on our run to the pedestrian bridge in Louisville.  My long run turned into an even longer run…taking me above and beyond the furthest distance I have ever run in my entire 2 year running career.  SO proud of myself.   It was accidental, but I was still feeling good at the end of it.  Just really hungry…but that was easily remedied.

Week three in the books…still going strong.

Sunday is my easy run or rest day.  As I knew I was having my skin cancer procedure on Wednesday, the day of my 7 mile run with negative splits, I opted to do this on Sunday, where I didn’t have to add any stress to an already stressful day on Wednesday.  It was a very humid morning, despite setting out just as the sun was coming out.  I made sure I hydrated and fueled and what happened was I totally nailed my negative splits.  Just the confidence boost I needed at the beginning of a draining and tiring week.

Monday, as always, takes me back to running in the wee hours of the morning when it is still dark.  Despite the sun not being up at that point, it is always muggy and humid these days.  So, I always have my water with me, even on shorter runs.  This Monday was six miles easy, which I did.  Oddest thing though…when I finished up the two miles I did on the street, a runner wearing no reflective gear came tearing out of the 4-H Fairgrounds and heading up ahead of where I run to turn around and head back.  Not sure what to make of it, and being a little bit paranoid about that sort of stuff happening, I unhooked my pepper spray from my fuel belt and held onto it as I made my way up to my turn around point.  He had stopped at the sidewalk and I turned around faster than usual.  I thought he was behind me…but when I turned into my apartment complex and ducked around the parking lot to pause my Garmin and wait it out…nothing came of it.  Thank goodness.  Call me paranoid, but I just wanted to make sure I was taking every precaution to keep safe out there in the dark.  I finished up my remaining 2 miles and headed inside to get clean, make breakfast, and get ready for the day.  Monday also means that it’s fun run day, so I went that evening out to my running store and hit the hills of Cherokee Park with no time goal in mind.  Just having a fun run, as is the entire point.  As it was my second run of the day, I made sure I slowed it down and took it easy on the hills, as much as I wanted to push up them.  No time for injuries while training for something as important as a marathon.  My Monday daily double ended with me, my roommate, and two of my good friends from the running group going out for frozen yogurt to cool down after a warm afternoon run.

Tuesday is the usual cross training day.  This week I was scheduled for 40-50 minutes of cross training.  No problem.  I hit up the gym and did 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer on the Pike’s Peak setting.  Training for the hills I’m encountering in my upcoming 15K in Upstate New York.  I had it set for Level 5 and totally rocked it out.  I was so pleased when that cardio session came to an end.  I was still feeling good.  Then it was on to 10 minutes on the stationary bike.  I absolutely HATE the stationary bike.  HATE.  I hate it more than I hate the treadmill.  Seriously.  But I rocked it out, then went down to the weight room for a little bit and got in a bit of strength training as well.

Wednesday normally would be my speed work and pacing day…but not this time.  As I stated, I did my speed work on Sunday and it was a good thing too.  I woke up to thunderstorms.  Lightning, wind, rain, the works.  I got up and got dressed to go out to run and as I was opening the door, lightning flashed and reality came back to me.  Running in rain is fine.  Running in lightning…not so fine.  Not safe.  So, I took off my gear, kept on my workout clothes, and headed to the gym.  I had my skin cancer procedure this morning at 7 a.m., so I didn’t have long to get my run done.  I managed 5 minutes on the treadmill at the gym, hating every single moment of it.  Finished it up, made it home in enough time to eat breakfast and then get to my dermatologist’s office for my appointment.  It was not a good morning.  But the procedure went fine and that’s the important part.

Thursday called for another easy run.  This one was supposed to be for 5 miles.  Easy pace.  I ended up going for 7 miles.  I think, for me, it was my way of taking back my body from the skin cancer.  It was me showing that I run my body, nothing else does.  It was liberating.  And it was just what I needed that morning.  I even ran it with negative splits, without even trying or needing to focus on pace or anything.  I was out there because I could be and it really just made all the difference.  Afterwards, I hit up the gym for another cardio and strength training session.  I had a great workout there, hitting up the elliptical and then the Cardio Wave machine.  Later that night, it was the second BlueMile Brew Mile, so I went out for that and rocked out a mile for charity.  No free beer for me.  This girl wanted water.  I got to hang out two of my favorite running peeps who turned out for the mile run as well.  Just an overall good day…feeling strong.  During the mile run, I also tried on some Saucony Kinvara 4 shoes.  They were very light.  Not sure if I liked them or not, but I could totally tell the 3 ounce difference between those and my Nike’s.  Hmmm…

Friday…the rest day.  Also known as the day that drives me crazy.  I hate not being able to even clock a few miles.  As I said before, I get antsy and fidgety.  But, I do continue to remind myself that these days are built into training plans for a reason.  The body needs to heal itself from the hard, strenuous activity that I inflict on it during the week.  In doing so, my body also gets stronger.  Stronger means…I get faster.  I’m fitter.  I’m doing it.  So, I went on a walk at lunch, kept it easy, just getting out and being active.  And that was that.  I was ready for my long run on Saturday now.

Saturday was my Long Slow Distance (LSD) pace long run for a scheduled 13 miles, per my marathon training.  I met up with my group of runners, and there were some faces I hadn’t seen yet.  So that was good.  I promised them as we were planning out when to meet that I would bring goodies.  I did.  Gluten-free zucchini muffins, which I baked the night before using fresh zucchini from my CSA bin.  Loving it.  Anyway, the route was planned and we headed out at 6:30 a.m. to get the run in before the heat of the day.  I ran all of this run with Matthew, who is a super-speedy, super great runner, and one that I met (and ran with) during the Mile 2 Mile run I did back in December.  We talked the entire time, detoured through U of L’s campus when he and I failed to notice the Sidewalk Closed signs, got lost on our way to the pedestrian bridge, found the pedestrian bridge.  Ran to the end.  Hung out there, ran back across, spotted more of our group, so we turned around and ran back across the bridge.  Then, headed back with two other runners, Harry and John, who were showing us a new route.  Another sidewalk closure was ahead, but we hopped into the grass.  I tripped on a piece of concrete, but caught myself.  Matthew kept asking me if I was okay and if I had twisted an ankle…but I was fine.  Didn’t slow me down any.  We continued on down the waterfront to an area I had never been through, then we hit up a trail I ran part of one Monday with my fun run group.  I powered through that trail and waited for everyone at the end of it.  Harry sent Matthew and I on after we stood around for a moment.  He was going to make it back with John.  Matthew and I struck out to get back to the store.  I was leading and missed the turn, so we turned off somewhere else, went up a hill, and hoped we’d end up where we needed to be.  We just kept going straight until he noticed that we were near where he used to live while he was in college.  YAY!  We now knew where we were.  We ran through the neighborhood and finally ended up on Bardstown Road.  The humidity was really starting to suck, so we decided to hit the afterburners at the end and make an all-out sprint toward the “finish,” at the coffee shop.  We made it.  15.5 miles in the books.  It was the furthest distance I have run to date.  And I was on cloud nine because I felt good.  I felt great.  That’s how I want to feel at that point, honestly.  I think running with people can really just make all the difference.  Anyway…strong finish in the humidity.  I went to meet up with Cathy and went out for breakfast because, despite fueling along the way, I was starving and actually ready for food.

Not a bad week for my training.  This week tapers back the miles a bit, which is fine.  It’s also a holiday weekend, so that actually works out really well.  I’ll be out of town and intend to meet up with a group of people so I can get my scheduled Saturday long run in.  I just need to get the details on where to meet everyone.  I’ll be sure to do that very soon.

So, despite having gone extra miles 2 days in a row…this week really made me feel strong and good as a runner.  I feel my running is improving.  And next week I am definitely getting back into my cardio circuits and my yoga.  I slacked this past week on them due to my procedure, but no excuses this coming week.  None.

Getting stronger…getting better…

And I’m healing up perfectly too.  Loving it still!


Running a marathon for a cause…an important cause…

Action For Healthy Kids - Chicago Marathon
Action For Healthy Kids – Chicago Marathon

Back when the Chicago Marathon first opened up for people to register, I got in with no problem.  In and out.  All before the Active.com collapse happened and many people were left to the mercy of the Chicago Marathon’s first ever lottery system.  But…I got to thinking.  Sure, it’s great that I felt compelled to take on a longer distance and really test my endurance, my stamina, my body, my mind, my entire soul for that matter.  But why just run for myself?  Why not run for a cause?

So…I chose to join a charity team.

My chosen charity – Action For Healthy Kids.

Never heard of it?  Well, let me tell you, this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  And I am proud to be a member of Team Healthy Kids.

Simply put, the childhood obesity epidemic has sparked alarm among parents, educators, health professionals and others in recent years.  More than 30% of American children are obese or overweight.  This is triple the number than in 1980.  Believe it or not, only 8% of elementary school students and 6% of middle school and high school students have daily PE at school.  My gym class used to be a requirement when I was in school.  This statistic is shocking.

Are you aware that 35% of school-age children watch an average of 5 or more hours of TV on a school day?  My parents wouldn’t let us watch television on school nights unless it was PBS, and only after homework was complete.

And, the kicker in all this is that overweight kids miss school 4 times as much as normal weight kids.  The result is that if children are not in school, they can’t learn.

Childhood obesity is a scary thing, and in this age of technology, video games, television shows, movies, and computer time keep kids sedentary more than ever.  But there are so many risks that come with childhood obesity.

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes

So what does Action for Healthy Kids do to help prevent the growing number of children who are considered obese in America?  Simply put…they educate them and and help teach them the importance of activity, exercise, and nutrition.  Action for Healthy Kids was founded in 2002 by the 16th US Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D, with the goal to address the childhood obesity epidemic by transforming schools into healthier places.  By working with schools, this organization is giving kids the keys to health and academic success by providing them with fun physical activity and nutrition programs that make it possible for them to eat nutritiously and play every day.

Action for Healthy Kids educates school leaders, public health officials, parents, students and other network members to increase their knowledge of nutrition and wellness in schools.  They work to mobilize schools, parents, and volunteers to install programs and services which will promote a healthy lifestyle and wellness policies for children in schools.  And they help transform schools to provide healthy foods, quality healthy, physical education and comprehensive physical activity for all students.

Please join me in supporting Action for Healthy Kids to provide even more of these programs in schools throughout the United States next year.  With your help, Action for Healthy Kids will provide necessary resources, programs, and volunteers to help schools build wellness programs that succeed.  Childhood obesity can end…and it starts with your support.

Please take a moment to visit my First Giving donation page and donate today.  A gift of any size will make a difference.

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/KarenBrady/2013-bank-of-america-chicago-marathon

And if you want to know more about Action for Healthy Kids, visit their Web site: http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/

Thank you so much for your support and all you do to make our youth healthy and active.

Love,
Karen J. Brady


Marathon Training Week #2 – From speed work to slowing down…

Chicago Marathon Training Week #2
Chicago Marathon Training Week #2

It’s amazing the lessons you learn through life.  Every day brings a new discovery, a new chance to improve on something, a lesson that needed to be learned, and everything in between.

Last week, I revealed that I was diagnosed with (granted) the most common form of skin cancer.  And while it is “common”…the fact that I had a nurse tell me I had any form of cancer broke my spirit.  It hurt.  It bothered me.  I didn’t let on…but when the reality of it struck…it really threw me off my game.  I no longer felt centered.  I was no longer focused.

What I had to do was strive to regain my equilibrium.  And I worked on doing that, staying positive, and focusing on something that truly made me happy.  My running.  Thank goodness for my training plan because it is keeping me accountable and keeping my mind off of things.

This was my second official week of marathon training and I was already looking forward to some of the scheduled days I had in front of me.

Sunday I went out for an easy run.  It was Father’s Day, so I dedicated 7 miles to my dad.  I called him later to tell him that, and that, ironically, I managed my fastest 7 miles to date without even trying.  And that the last mile of it was spent carrying a bag that had some almonds and an avocado in it, as I stopped by the grocery store while I was out.  Yes…I am that runner.

Monday morning meant I was back to the running in the dark.  I am continuing to fuel and hydrate according to the instructions that my sports nutritionist laid out for me and have been quite successful with that.  I have, however, discovered that I hate my hand-held water bottle.  I carried it with me on the shorter runs and just found it annoying.  But I don’t feel like wearing my fuel belt with water bottles on the shorter distances either.  But I need the hydration in order to follow the plan that she has laid out for me to guarantee my body will function right and properly under race conditions when I get to my marathon.  So…I carry the handheld bottle.  And hate it.  Monday morning was a scheduled 5 miles at an easy pace.  I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to race every run I do, which is a huge problem for me.  So, I often have to remind myself to slow down and take it easy.  It really is important.  So, I did the scheduled miles…then later that evening did an even easier run through the hills of Cherokee Park with my Monday fun run group.  It was good.  And I had a great conversation about my marathon from someone who has run it 6 times as well as other marathons I might want to look at in the future.  It was a good Monday.

Tuesday was the scheduled cross training day.  I’m so not used to waking up without going running, so this day usually throws me off.  I did 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer with hill intervals and on Level 5 and really rocked it out.  I was proud of myself.  Then I hit up the Cardio Wave machine for 10 minutes, which is like an elliptical machine, except that your feet move from side-to-side and instead of moving forward and back.  It is a welcome change for the legs.  While it is only 10 minutes, I worked it hard, upping my resistance and speed every minute.  It really works up a sweat.

Wednesday is the speed work and pacing day.  And this week was fartlek week.  Five miles worth.  Now, I attempted fartleks once before…but didn’t properly warm up and ended up with a nagging pain in my ankle/calf muscle for about 2 weeks.  This time, I used my first mile as a warm up and ran the fartleks the remaining 4 miles.  For those of you not familiar with the term, fartleks are where you alternate irregular fast and slow intervals, either by time or by markers on the course you choose to run.  As I run in the early morning when it is dark out, I couldn’t really keep track on my watch, so I chose different places to speed up and run through and then other places to ease back into an easy pace.  I ended up breaking a 5 mile PR by an entire minute.  Maybe there is something to this speed play stuff.  I had a great and fun run that morning.  It was nice to change things up.

Thursday rolled around and that was another easy run day.  This time it called for 6 miles.  So, I went out and logged those, once again reminding myself that I don’t need to race on these runs.  I took it easy, and ran at a decent pace for me…and finished strong.  I’m trying to work on that finishing kick…but I still usually don’t have the ooomph at the end of a run, no matter the distance, to really kick it into high gear.  I’m hoping my speed work days will help with that in the end.  After that, I hit up the gym for some cardio and strength training.  I felt strong that morning.  It was a good feeling.

Friday…the day of rest.  I dread Friday for this reason.  It is not easy for me to take a day off of running.  I get antsy and fidgety.  But, rest days are important for the muslces, the body, and the soul.  Honestly, it gives the body a chance to repair itself.  These days are vital when in training because these days help the muscles build up strength.  I know that sounds weird, but with each workout you fatigue your muscles and giving them a day off means they repair themselves and grow stronger.  And I definitely want to be a stronger runner.  So, once again, I respected the rest day and kept it holy.  I did opt for an easy walk at the gym on my lunch hour.  Nothing strenuous.

Saturday is the day of the long run at the Long Slow Distance (LSD) pace.  I am so lucky to have fallen in with a group of runners who have taken me in and are able to take me on new routes and new runs on these longer running days.  I was really getting tired of looping my neighborhood.  BORING!  I met up with a great group of people on Saturday morning and we logged my 11 mile training run in 1:36:10.  I was talking with one of the runners, someone who has just logged his 32nd marathon in his life, and he was telling me the importance of these runs being taken at a slower, easier pace.  It does help build up strength and speed in the end.  Just like rest days.  There will be those days where my training calls for Marathon Pace…but on these LSD days…I try to honor that longer slower distance.  I was so happy to have the company and the conversation on the long run.  It made the time fly by and the effort feel effortless.  Loving it.  I finished strong too.  Already looking forward to doing it again next weekend.

So, overall, not a bad training week at all.  I already see in the next few weeks, due to events and appointments, where I will need to tweak my training schedule, but I’m so happy with how this week went.  I am definitely focusing more on feel and my body.  I used to put so much emphasis on time, and a part of me still does, but through the training and through learning from other seasoned runners, I am discovering that the pace will find you at the race itself…you train right, and you’ll be ready to run one of the best races of your life.  Train too hard…and you get burnt out or injured.  And that is the last thing I want to have happen.  So, training smart and keeping my mileage and my pace in proper check.

Loving every run.  So that means I must be doing something right.

I am not sure if or how my procedure will affect my program, but I will find out on Wednesday when I go in.  The most important thing right now is to remain positive and do what is right for me and my body.  And right now…it’s getting rid of the basal cell carcinoma, healing, and having that weight lifted off my shoulders.  I’m going to keep on smiling.


Marathon Training Week #1 – In the beginning…

Chicago Marathon Training Week #1
Chicago Marathon Training Week #1

It has been a long, crazy, hectic, and draining week for me as I started my official training program for the Chicago Marathon.  But I was totally excited to get it underway.  It officially started last week…exactly…on Sunday, June 9th.  It was…a rest day.  Naturally.  But I used that time wisely and started taking some steps that I hope will only better my training and my running in the long run.

That morning, I met up with a sports nutritionist.  After getting a good physical report back from my check-up at the doctor and the okay to start marathon training as I was in very good health…I had inquired about talking with a sports nutritionist because…well…I am horrible when it comes to fueling and hydrating while on the run.  And I wanted to go into this training doing everything possible to do right by my body.  And that meant learning to fuel it properly before, during, and after running.

The problem was…we couldn’t find a sports nutritionist in this area.  Strange, as we have the University of Louisville, which has a great sports program, right here.  But…nope.  Nothing.  On a whim, I contacted Ken Combs Running Store and they put me in touch with one.  Her name is Donna…and she’s awesome.  She’s just like me – a gluten-free, vegetarian, long distance runner.  She said she wasn’t taking on new clients at the time, but given my circumstances, she would definitely take me on.

In our first meeting she spoke to me about the importance of fueling my body correctly…not just on race day, but during the entire time I’m in training.  This meant changing the way I looked at food…nutrition info…and changing up how I ate.  We laid out a plan, which involved me drinking 16 ounces of water before heading out for a run, and getting something in my stomach.  Prior to that, I would run my mornings on an empty stomach and not even bring water with me.  I’d just go run.  Worry about the rest when I got back.  She emphasized how important it was to get something in my stomach so that my body is feeding off of the fuel rather than taking away from my muscle strength.  It made sense.  She’s moving me more towards a clean eating diet as well, which means less processed foods (aka: bad carbs) and more natural foods (aka: good carbs).  And she is having me hydrate and fuel while out on every training run.  This means not just water…but Gatorade to with giving my body electrolytes, sodium, and potassium that is lost while running…and giving an energy boost to the muscles with the carbohydrates it offers too.  Fuel.  I am also to take a GU or Sports Beans packet every 3-4 miles (about every 30 minutes) to really train my body to take in fuel while I’m on the run.  It all made sense…so I vowed to start doing it.

I learned a lot from her and we’ll be meeting up again in a couple of months to see how I am progressing.

My charity group that I am running the Chicago Marathon with, Team Healthy Kids – part of Action For Healthy Kids, sent me a training program for my marathon training.  I had one originally, but after looking at it, I felt that the mileage was too low.  I’d been running 35-40 miles a week, and was being dropped down to half that.  I contacted them to see about getting it changed up.  They said that since this was my first marathon, they put me on the beginner plan, but they saw my point and moved me to the intermediate one.  That being said, my first run happened on Monday morning.

Five miles…and it was raining.  I heard the rain when I woke up that morning.  But I didn’t make plans to head to the gym to hit the treadmill.  I got dressed, laced up my shoes, grabbed my reflective gear and headed out the door.  Marathons happen in all sorts of weather and as long as there was no lightning…I was hitting the roads.  I noticed that Cathy had placed a sign up on the door.  It had words of encouragement on it.  And in marker she wrote me a message.  I love that she is so supportive of my running and really is making sure I do my training as well.  It means less time to do other things, but she seems willing to take on the sacrifice as well at times.  The sign was the encouragement I needed.  Monday morning…5 miles at an easy pace completed…in the rain.  I felt really badass!  I hated my time, but as the run specifically was meant to be done at an easy pace, I focused more on the pacing than the time.

Tuesday was my Cross Training day.  I hit up the gym for a 45 minute session on the Arc Trainer, set to the hill setting.  That was tough, but I got through it.  Then I put myself through 10 minutes on the rowing machine.  My arms were tired and sore from doing a yoga DVD on Sunday night…but I got through it and moved down to the weight room for some strength training.

Wednesday was supposed to be my 6 mile run in the morning, but…I was running a 10K on Saturday…when I was supposed to be running 9 miles long.  So, I flip-flopped those days.  On Wednesday, I spent my wee morning hours knocking out 9 miles in some pretty crazy humidity.  I fueled every three miles and took Gatorade for hydration for the first time…since the Chicago Half Marathon.  It all settled fine in my stomach and I finished the run feeling good.  I was proud of myself.

Thursday meant it was Speed/Pacing day.  And the schedule called for a 4 mile tempo run.  A tempo run, for those of you who might not be familiar with the term, is simply running at a quicker pace than the easy pace, but at about 15 seconds slower than your 10K time.  I managed to actually hold a rather steady tempo on my run, despite throwing in some hills to make it a bit tougher.  I came out of that one surprised.  Especially since I was also dealing with 15 mph winds that morning as well.

Friday…was the day of rest.  I respected it and kept it holy.

Saturday was race day.  I was participating in the Capital City Stampede 10K…which is why I moved my 6 mile run to Saturday.  It just sort of…worked out that way.  I went to the race, knocked it out with a new PR, and had a great time running.  Races make me happy…but they are about to take a back seat to my training sessions.

And that rounded out my first official week of training for the Chicago Marathon.  At the end of it…I feel good.  I’m ready for this coming week where I work on my fueling, rehydration, and pace/speed as well.  I have a goal…and I’m working hard to reach it.  And…I have to say, I am very proud of myself for going out there on my first official day of training in the rain.

All-in-all…a draining, but very exciting week for me.  On to the next…


Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon – New Albany, IN (April 21, 2013)

Me starting off on the 8 mile bike portion of the Floyd County YMCA Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon
Me starting off on the 8 mile bike portion of the Floyd County YMCA Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon

Race: Tri-at-the-Y Super Sprint Triathlon

Place: Floyd County YMCA, New Albany, Indiana

Date: April 21, 2013

Overall Time: 1:04:03

I can now officially call myself a triathlete.  For real.  No indoor triathlon this time.  Nope.  The triathlon that I participated in two weekends ago was an official Super Sprint Triathlon, which did not happen indoors on gym equipment this time.  If you recall, my last triathlon was an Indoor Triathlon, and I wasn’t too keen on it.  Besides, it wasn’t a true triathlon.  No measured distance to run or pedal, just set times on a treadmill and stationary bike.  Then a certain time in the pool.  Done.

NOT. THIS. TIME.

And I couldn’t have been happier about it either.

Granted, when I signed up for this, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.  I’m just going to be honest.  I am a good swimmer, but I’m not a fast swimmer.  I can bike, but I’ve never done so in competition form.  And the weather had been so cold leading into this race, that the only practice I was getting on the bike was on the stationary bike at the gym.  Definitely not the same as getting out onto the road and tackling some real hills.  But, you make do with what you’ve got, yes?

As a runner, I knew I would have that part down.  It was the bike and swim that were making me nervous.  As I got on the stationary bike on every gym day leading up to the triathlon, I was feeling a bit better about the bike portion…but that swim portion still seemed a bit daunting.  Granted, it was a simple 300 meters in the pool, but that was six laps (down and back) in each lane of the pool at the YMCA.  I got in one morning of swimming in the pool prior to this event…and it took me 20 minutes to do the required 6 down and back laps.  I was not feeling confident at all about that part of this triathlon.

Running is my passion.  I have yet to find that same passion in any other sport.  I run a lot, I run often, I run without forcing myself to do so.  It’s just something I love to do.  Early, late, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll lace up those shoes and just go, go, go whenever I want.  I run slow, I run fast, I run long.  I run…pretty much every day.  At most 6 out of 7 days a week…runs of varying lengths.  But, I know that cross training is also important to building up better skills as a runner.  A triathlon is a great way to get a sample of cross training with two very different sports from running – biking and swimming.  Throwing in two consecutive and challenging sports with a run was a good introduction to other options out there, that’s for sure.

A Super Sprint Triathlon is a great introduction to triathlons.  I’m so glad I did it, although I had a nervous respect for what I was getting myself into.  I didn’t mention it to anyone because I wasn’t completely sure I could do it.  Or do it well.  And that just means…to my own high standards I place on myself when I compete.

A Super Sprint Triathlon consists of an 8 mile bike, a 2 mile run, and a 300 meter swim.

Small…but daunting to someone who really just runs.  I think I took it on like a champ though.

The day before the triathlon, I had gone out for a quick 5 mile run, and then later met up with my friend Nikky for her last long run (10 miles) to pace her as she prepped for her mini marathon the following Saturday.  So, I was going into this with some tired legs as it was.  But…I’ve never really let that slow me down (much) when it comes to races.  What I didn’t know was what to expect when the triathlon kicked off.  I was…really clueless going in.  That was evident by the fact that I was going to be doing the biking portion of the race on a mountain bike…not a road bike.  Even better…the bike didn’t quite fit into the trunk of my Toyota Corolla, despite lowering the seats.  So, much of the drive to the YMCA was cautious, hoping that the trunk didn’t pop open in the process as it couldn’t be shut.

I also had to think about what I was going to wear.  It was required that all participants wear their bathing suits under their clothes for the triathlon.  I had to do that with the indoor triathlon I did last March, so that wasn’t an issue.  The issue was…it was flippin’ cold that morning.  For real.  Like 40 degrees cold.  So, I had some decisions to make when it came to wardrobe.  When I got up that morning, the bathing suit went on…because I knew that much was a given.  I finally decided to just brave it and wear the swim suit bottoms as my shorts throughout the entire triathlon.  I put on some compression socks and my running shoes.  My original thought was to just throw on arm warmers and do the entire thing in my bathing suit, but the weather deterred me from that line of thinking.  I ended up throwing on my Earth Fare Athlete Ambassador shirt with the arm warmers and calling it done.  One BondiBand later and one ponytail (no pigtails as I had to wear a helmet for the bike portion) later, I was ready to get to the Floyd County YMCA (also known as…my gym).

So, with my bike wedged into my little Toyota Corolla, my roommate dropped me off with my bike and then headed back to the apartment as her mom was coming over.  She was going to cheer me on too and then we were all heading out for her belated birthday lunch at North End Café in Louisville, Kentucky.  So…I knew a delicious gluten-free pancake was in my future…I just had to get through the triathlon first.  As she drove off, I started to walk my bike toward the YMCA, and was told by a fellow triathlete that I might as well just take it up and over the flood wall and get it racked before checking in.  I glanced over a the stairs leading up and over the train tracks, then the flood wall, and thanked him.  So, I rolled my bike that way, then picked it up and carried it all the way up the steps, resting at the top, before carrying it down the steps toward the amphitheater, and over to the bike racks.  As mine was a mountain bike, among a sea of racing road bikes), I didn’t hang mine up by the seat.  I just kicked it into place with the kickstand and left it there while I hauled myself back up the steps, over the flood wall, and back toward the YMCA to get checked in.  This involved getting my t-shirt, my race number, my timing chip (which fit around my ankle), and had to strip out of my hoodie, roll down my arm warmers, and roll up my sleeves to get the required triathlete bib number scrawled on my upper right in Sharpie marker.  I felt pretty official after that.

Then it was the waiting game.  I was waiting on Cathy to return with her mom.  I needed to eat my pre-race fuel of a banana in enough time to let it digest.  When she did arrive…she had forgotten the banana.  I was afraid no fuel since my cereal at breakfast and my Lärabar I ate with it would mean I would be starving during the triathlon.  A hungry athlete is an unhappy athlete.  Trust me.  So, she ditched her belongings and took off to the local gas station, knowing they usually have some bananas in a basket.  She succeeded, and returned, and I devoured the banana on the walk toward the bike rack area.  We had about 30 minutes to the start of the triathlon and a mandatory meeting in the bike area was about to start.

The mandatory meeting basically went over the course and how the triathlon would work.  They told us where we would be biking, and how many loops we’d have to do for the required miles.  They told us about transitioning from bike to running, and where we needed to run, turn around, and head up the hill, down some stairs (YIKES) and into the back of the YMCA to transition to the swim.  Then…the dreaded swim would take place.  They also went on to say that our participation in the event that morning was sending a message to people like the Boston Marathon bombers that we, as athletes, would not be bullied.  It was a touching speech and I nearly cried.  And then, we were told to get our bikes, put the more experienced up front, and get ready to start.

I decided to follow instructions and lined up with my bike toward the back.  After all, the fewer people passing me meant the better I would feel about myself, right?  Except…this was a loop, so those who started ahead of me were going to whip by me regardless.  Ah well…being that I don’t bike much outside (this needs to change!), I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Nor was I completely familiar with my bike…especially on really steep hills and the like, which I didn’t know I’d have to tackle until I was peddling up one.  The bikers were sent off one at a time.  And after about 10 minutes, it was my turn at the starting line.  I was told to go whenever I was ready.  Putting my feet on the pedals…I was off.

8 Mile Bike Time: 34:21

Biking 8 miles on a stationary bike, even with varying resistances, didn’t come close to preparing me for the bike portion of the triathlon.  I started, as instructed, with my bike in the lowest gear, which would ensure a quick start.  That was pretty much all I had right at the start.  From there it was a matter of learning when I needed to be in a higher gear, when I needed to shift back down to an easier one, navigating pot holes, standing up so my bootie didn’t get bruised as I cruised over a makeshift bridge that covered a large hole in the course.  The bike was HARD!

No joke.  I thought, when I signed up, that because I could manage higher resistance on the stationary bike going 8 miles in 25 minutes would be simple.  HAHAHA!!  WRONG.  I didn’t account for fatigue…or hills…or just…not knowing what I was doing.  It’s not as easy as jumping on a bike and peddling.  You have to put a lot of work into your legs to get that bike going and up to speed.  And when I hit that steep incline the first time, I faltered more than a little.  I slowed to a crawl.  But I got up it…and learned a few lessons about my bike in the process.

First of all, my friend Will, who was also doing this (but has done a triathlon before) had those clip-in shoes for his pedals, which he said really do make all the difference.  I sort of laughed it on, but my feet were sliding off my pedals at times.  I could now see his point.  I envied everyone who had those shoes for their bikes.  They would definitely have an easier time.  Secondly, I now knew that higher gears worked better on flat surfaces, and shifting to an easier gear for hills was ideal.  On my second loop of the course, I was starting to get this down.  And by the third and final loop, while my legs were screaming at me because they were tired of peddling the heavy mountain bike up the hill, I did better this time.  And before I knew it, I was peddling into the transition area, hopping off my bike, and running it across the line to stop my timing chip.  This gave me time to rack my bike and start to prep for the run.

Me having just transitioned from the bike to the run at the Floyd County YMCA Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon
Me having just transitioned from the bike to the run at the Floyd County YMCA Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon

2 Mile Run Time: 15:52

No one told me how much my quads would hurt as I transitioned from biking to running.  It took a moment for me to convince them that they needed to move.  And this was the part of the race I felt most confident in.  Here I was, feeling like a complete rookie because now my legs were hurting from pushing it on the bike.  But, I finally got moving and managed to shake it all out the more I ran.  I had walked originally toward the starting line, but Cathy began screaming at me to move it…so I jogged, hit the starting line, and took off.

I immediately passed the person who started running a few moments ahead of me.  I knew that this was my portion and that I could do this well.  I had to look beyond the pain and fatigue in my legs and push…dig deep…find my strong…and conquer the run.  I also knew that at the very end of the run was a hill that would take us up to the flood wall.  So, I was mentally preparing for that too.  The rest of the run was flat, although pock marked with pot holes.  I was just really careful where I planted my feet and kept on moving.  I passed more people.  I saw Will heading the other way.  He waved at me.  And then…I found the turn around point, made my turn and headed back toward the amphitheater.  I passed Will.  I headed up the hill…and I did so with some actual speed.  My legs were feeling good.  I was comfortable.  I was running.  I was doing my thing.

Then…the stairs.

UGH.  Those brought my stride to a stop as running down them was not safe.  I tried…and decided it was not a good idea.  So, I walked them…quickly…and then picked up the run at the bottom, where I followed the path marked by orange cones toward the back of the YMCA.  I passed over the mat that would stop the timing and began the swim transition.  This was the part I wasn’t looking forward to doing.

300 Yard Swim Time: 8:44

How I managed to swim 300 yards in under 9 minutes is still a mystery to me, as it took me 20 minutes when I practiced it the week before.  Go figure.  I’m still perplexed and slightly awed by my finish time for the swim.  Going into this, I knew my legs would be tired, I would be tired, and it was my weakest link in the triathlon as it was.  But, when I sign up for something…I get it done.  Even if I do it slowly.

The transition from running to swimming took me 4 minutes to accomplish.  Why?  Well…I had to peel off my shirt and arm warmers, get rid of my Garmin and Nike Fuel Band.  Then I had to take off my shoes, and strip out of the compression socks.  Compression socks, if they are doing their job properly, are not easy to just peel off and go.  I had to fight a little with them, but I finally managed to get them off so I could make my way over to the pool.  I stepped across the start line, lowered myself into the water, and took off.

I did the crawl stroke for the first few lanes, but decided, as I slowed down and struggled, that the backstroke was going to be necessary if I was going to get through this.  I felt like such a newbie, heading down the lane in a full on backstroke, then coming back in the crawl stroke.  But, you do what you have to do to finish as best you can, right?  I kicked, I flailed my hands and arms, I ripped through the water, up and down each lane, until I made it to the final lane.  I knew I was almost there, and all my energy was fading fast.  But I was so close now.  I backstroked down, flipped over, and made my final swim back in to hoist myself out of the water and get across the finish line, stopping my chip time.

I’m not going to lie…this was difficult for me.  The entire experience, from the weather, to the transitions, to the three sports involved all challenged me in different ways.  They challenged my body.  They made me work hard, push hard, and made me understand that proper training is important.

That being said, my overall finish time was 1:04:03.  I was 81/128 overall.  Not bad for a first triathlon.  I finished 2/5 in my age division.  As for the separate events, I as far as age division went, I was 3/5 on the bike portion; 1/5 on the run portion; and I was 4/5 in the swim portion.  About what I expected.  I didn’t come in last in my age division on anything…but if I had, I figured it would have been the swim.  I was close.  LOL!

Would I do another triathlon?  Maybe a longer one?  Maybe another Super Sprint?  Sure.  I’d love to.  I actually had a really good time, despite the aches and pains I put my body through on the bike and swim.  It was a really good time.  And the YMCA did a fantastic job with enthusiastic volunteers and organization.  This was a great way to be introduced to the endurance events of triathlons.  And if I can ever afford a road bike, I’d like to pursue them further.  But I will never again participate on a heavy mountain bike.  Or, if I must, I’ll at least get out on the roads with it more this spring and fall and get to the gear shirts and using it on hills and flat terrain.  If nothing else, the cross training will only help me improve as a runner, right?

As for swimming, I’m vowing now to be better about hitting the pool at the gym.  Weekends, especially Sunday mornings, might be dedicated to that.  In order to get better, I have to get stronger.  And in order to do that, I have to practice, practice, practice.

But hey…I’m officially a triathlete!

Me having just finished the 300 yard swim and completing the Floyd County Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon
Me having just finished the 300 yard swim and completing the Floyd County Tri-At-The-Y Super Sprint Triathlon


Running to Remember – A Tribute to the Victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Me and Nikky pinned up and ready for our run for Boston.
Me and Nikky pinned up and ready for our run for Boston.

Today was a good day.

It feels strange to say that, because good days since Monday, April 15, 2013, have been few and far between.  I’ve had good moments, sure…but my overall attitude, my overall emotional state was rocked…perhaps even shattered when those bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  I wasn’t there.  But my heart and soul was.  And every image burned itself into my heart.  I cried…a lot.  I felt down.  Depressed.  Angry.  Sad.  I felt lost.  I felt hopeless.  I felt helpless.  I’ve witnessed quite a few life-changing events in my life, but this one rocked me hard.  This one…hit me right in the chest.

Why?

Because…I am a runner.

So, when my friend Nikky asked on her Facebook page if someone wanted to pace her while she went on her last long run before she began her taper for the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon coming up in a week…I volunteered.  It’s not often I get to go running with others.  There is my fun run group on Monday, of course, but…most times I’m on my own there too.  So, I jumped on the chance to join her for her 10 mile run.  She was worried that she would be too slow…but I told her it was her job to set the pace…and I would go with it.  I never mind running with people.  And if it means I slow my pace down, I’m more than happy to do it.

So often runners focus on their pace, their time.  I am one of these runners.  I always am looking to better myself.  And so often I forget the joy of just going out for a slow, easy run.  It’s amazing what you see, what you feel, what you notice that you might have missed…

Then, on Thursday, it occurred to me that Nikky and I could do something very special on our 10 miler.  We could run…for Boston.  I pitched the idea at her, and she was totally for it.  Dedicating her long run to a cause…and we’d do it together.  I printed up some race bibs for us to wear, to make it official, and eagerly anticipated our run on Saturday afternoon.

I went out on Saturday morning for an easy 5 miler on my own…a warm-up if you will.  And after grabbing a bite to eat at Jason’s Deli (My pre-race lunch was a gluten-free peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Don’t mock…runners love peanut butter!), I headed to our rendezvous spot, ready to help her do her long run.

We met up at the YMCA and had Cathy get us pinned up (she’s an expert after all).  After that, Cathy went off to grocery shop and Nikky and I headed to the park where we would start our run.  We stretched (she is SO flexible!) and then walked up to the road to get started.  I reassured her that I was more than happy to take her pace and she told me it was okay to push her a little now and then.  So, with that understanding, I let her start us off…up a hill.

We had so much fun.  The miles flew by as we ran around a route she runs often enough.  And we did it wearing our special race bibs, throwing our hands up in the air.  Running for Boston.  It felt good to add a cause to purpose for being out on the roads.  The race bibs just sort of made it feel more official.  It felt good.  We kept our conversations on the light side…speaking of happy things.  We’d talk about Boston…but mostly of the relief that just last night the second suspect was taken into custody…alive.  And how we hoped that justice would be played out.  We talked of races, ones we’ve run, ones that we would like to run.  We talked about our families.  We talked about people we know who run.  We talked about our local running stores.  We would throw our hands up in the air when cars drove by, saying, “We’re running for Boston!”  And we never stopped.  It was refreshing.  It was, honestly, just what I needed.

Ten miles, with hills at the start, hills in the middle, and more hills at the end.  She really had this planned out.  The best part was, she did an amazing job on her run.  We hit 10 miles and I hugged her and congratulated her.  She is amazing and she’s going to do a great job on her run next weekend.  I can tell.  And with crowd support down there, oh…I have a feeling she’ll do better than she even expects.  The important thing is to pace herself.  I am so proud of her.  She rocked it.  She knew when to push and when to let up.  She was determined not to get injured before this race this year…and I am so glad she listened to her body.  Those last two miles, though, she gave it her all.  Yeah…very proud of her.

Proudly wearing our race bibs…we headed to The Comfy Cow for celebratory ice cream.  We talked some more about anything and everything.  And finally, we parted ways.

Today’s run was so cleansing.  It was something we both felt we needed to do.  She had the reason and we both had the time.  Dedicating today’s run to Boston was so heartfelt.  We both were affected by what happened.  Anyone who is a runner or was a runner or even just knows runners was affected by the events in Boston on Monday.  But with every step we took today, we put in miles for the victims of those senseless bombings.  Miles for a good cause.  Miles to remember.  Miles that we shared…with Boston in our hearts and proudly displayed on our tech shirts.  This was Nikky’s run…but she and I made it so much more.

This wasn’t just a training run.  That was what got us out there.  This was a run for remembrance.  This was a run for healing.  We accomplished it.  And we did it together.  One foot in front of the other.  The road rose up to meet us…and we left our heartache and tears behind as we climbed our first hill together…and lifted up Boston.

Thank you, Nikky, for this amazing experience.  We may have only been two people…but we carried the whole of the Boston Marathon with us.  Boston Strong!


Fumbling toward the final race in the Polar Bear Grand Prix

Snowman Shuffle 4 Mile Run/Walk
Snowman Shuffle 4 Mile Run/Walk

Tomorrow, Saturday, February 9, 2013, will mark the end of this year’s Polar Bear Grand Prix.  Last year, I was greeted by a very cold morning and pouring rain.  This year…I think it’s just the cold that I get to contend with.  At least…I hope.

But…in reality, I don’t really want the cold.

Fact: The cold air naturally slows me down.  It’s harder to breathe through.  I have to layer my clothing.  I just feel…awkward in cold weather.

And I have been getting out to run in the cold as often as possible.  Last Sunday, I even went for 6 miles in the snow and ice.  My roommate called me hardcore.  The fact of the matter was…the very thought of going to the gym for the second day in a row to run my miles for training was unbearable.  I hate running inside.  I hate the treadmill.  I hate the tiny indoor track at my gym even more, where 1 mile is 18 laps around it.  Told you…it’s tiny.  That’s what got me out in the snow and ice that Sunday morning.  And I took it slow and easy and really just kept myself close enough to home that should I need to give in to the elements and cut the run short, I wouldn’t have far to go.

And though it was a slower run for me…it was a good run.

But there is that word.  That word I hate using…but I feel it so often.

SLOW.  S-L-O-W.

I don’t know why I focus so much on my speed, especially on these training runs.  I think it just comes natural to a runner to want to improve.  Or at least maintain.  But lately it’s just felt like I’m moving backwards.  Figuratively, of course.

And here’s why I think it’s been bothering me all week…

Despite the cold, hard rain of the Snowman Shuffle last year…it was one of my best races to that day.  No joke.  I finished the four mile course, complete with those killer hills at Cherokee Park, in 33:17.  That was huge for me.  That meant I had a lovely pace of 8:19, or about 7.2 miles per hour.  Up until that point…that pace had never happened.

And over the year that has now passed, I have only begun to get faster than that.  Until, it seems, recently.

I would like to point my finger at the elements and push all the blame off on that, but the fact of the matter is…I can’t.  I could sit here until I was blue in the face and rattle off reasons as to why I feel inadequate coming into this race, despite the training and time I’ve put into my runs during the week and over the weekends, but what good would it do?  They are just excuses when it comes down to it.

“It’s so cold out!  The cold slows me down.”

“It’s hard to breathe in that bitter cold air!”

“I f***ing hate layers!”

“But it’s so dark when I go out to run that early in the morning…”

Hey…it may be the truth…but it is also an excuse.  Any way you slice it.

So…why the added pressure?  I made a mistake a couple weeks ago and looked at the overall standings for the Polar Bear Grand Prix.  Yep.  Bad…bad idea.  Because currently, I am sitting in third place in the overall women’s category.  Not my age division.  Women…overall…for all the races.  And suddenly…it just feels like I put a crap-ton of pressure on myself to maintain that.  I mean, I’ve had killer races leading up to this one.  I placed third in my age division in the Reindeer Romp 4K, and second in my age division in the Frostbite 5K…but it was seeing that overall ranking that just…it really took away my zen runner attitude and I’ve been fretting over it since.  That…and my finishing time.

This isn’t like me.  Not really.  But I feel that when I revisit races, I should only better my performance.  After all, I have a year of training behind me.  The second time around, or third, or whatever, should only show improvement.  But…but what if I don’t.

And given my recent morning runs…even on the weekends…I haven’t been feeling good about besting that 33:17 finishing time.  In fact, I’ve made a point to check my Garmin at each 4 mile beep on my runs that go that long or longer…and I am usually right at, if not slower than that time.

And it’s a bit disheartening.  Especially feeling this added pressure of that overall standing.

Let me clarify…no one is putting this pressure on me.  No one but myself.  And, I think that is what makes this so hard to get over, to ignore.  It’s that little voice in the back of my head that tells me…I’m not getting any better.  I’ve plateaued.  That I fail if I don’t maintain that spot in the top 3 women’s overall.

It’s all poppycock, of course…but…that’s what thoughts have been permeating my mind.  Not just on my downtime…but on my runs.  Every 4 mile beep…that’s what I think about.

Why am I even obsessing?  I love running…and finding that joy that I associate with each stride, each breath, each footfall…hasn’t felt good enough leading into this race.  And it’s been killing my mojo.  It’s been really pulling at me.  It’s been…bothering me.

Honestly, it shouldn’t.  I shouldn’t even be obsessing over it.  But I am.  And.  I.  Can’t.  Stop.

The past couple of mornings, I’ve turned my mileage for my training schedule…and each time, I’ve been unhappy with the results.  Why?  I’m right at that 7.2 mile per hour speed.  Which, isn’t slow by any means…but I know I can and do run better than that.  I know that most of these runs are supposed to be at an “easy” pace…that I shouldn’t be trying to find that magical race pace unless my program specifically calls for it…but…it’s human nature to get competitive…even if it is with yourself.

The fact of the matter is, the one thing in life that brings me the most joy has been bringing me down these days.  Actually…it’s not the running that’s bringing me down.  The running, while slower than usual, has been brilliant.  It’s that little voice inside…that little devil sitting on my shoulder…that doubt that creeps in every now and again…that’s what has been bringing me down.  My own lack of confidence.  My own sense of what accomplishment is.  My own perception of what not meeting certain goals would mean to me…as a runner…in this particular race.

So…what do I do to overcome this?

I don’t know.

But here’s what I am going to do…

I am going to get up tomorrow morning and dress for the expected 29 degree weather.  Yep…this means some cold weather gear.  Perhaps even a layer or two.  We’ll see.  A lot of that will depend on the wind factor, which the Weather Channel is currently predicting to be around 6 mph.  I’ll eat some cereal before heading out the door to drive to Cherokee Park and, hopefully, find a parking spot that isn’t outside of the park and a long walk uphill to packet pick-up.  I’ll get my packet and get my number pinned up.  I’ll do my, “I’m too cold to stretch…but here goes nothing” half-ass stretching.  I’ll eat half of a Kind Bar.  I’ll line-up at the start…somewhere back from the front…but not too far back.  And then…I’ll just run.  I’ll run what I am comfortable with.  I’ll run without looking at my watch for time or pace.  I’ll listen for the beeps, but I won’t look.  I’ll simply run.

And what happens when I cross the finish line?  I’ll find that whatever effort I put into that run…was enough.  Do I need to beat last year’s time?  Nope.  I want to, of course…but I don’t need to.  Will I be any less of a runner if I don’t?  Not at all.  Will I be a failure if I fall out of that third overall spot?  I might feel like it for a moment…but it will pass.  I don’t run to collect medals and awards.  That’s not what fuels me.  What fuels me is passion.  I don’t get up at 4 a.m. every morning and throw on my running clothes and take a run in 19 degree darkness because I have to.  I don’t have to do anything.  I do it because, believe it or not, I want to.

I sometimes forget the whole reason I started running.  Because somewhere…somehow…one day when I took up a jog at that itty-bitty track at the gym…I found something that made me smile.  I’m not super fast.  I’m not an elite.  But sometimes helps to just take a step back and realize…while I am not these things…I am enough.

And my passion for running should never be overshadowed by doubt, fear, time, or race placement.  I am not a failure.  Time doesn’t matter.  Run for the love of the run…and the run will love you back.

So, we’ll see what happens tomorrow as I tackle four miles through Cherokee Park’s hills.  It looks like another chilly morning run awaits…and if it slows me down…it slows me down.  All I should focus on is making it from start to finish.  My legs, feet, and determination will do the rest.

Snowman Shuffle…I’m coming for you.  Even if I don’t feel like it…I am ready.

As ready as I’ll ever be.


One week and 10 hard-earned miles later…

January Running Challenges
January Running Challenges

I’m not one to set a goal and take it lightly.  I’m a fighter.  A pursuer.  A doer.

So, imagine my chagrin after declaring my 2013 running goal of running 1300 miles…and then heading out of town for the New Year…to be met with snow, ice, and roads that were not safe to run on while I was out of town.  It was still December at that point…but running in place (or sprinting around the island) in my friend’s kitchen was even worse than running on a treadmill.

FOR REAL!

But…my dedication to the Runner’s World Run Streak and REDD (Run Every Day in December) meant…I ran.  Even if it was running in place for  50 minutes to hit what would be 5 miles…all to simply get that run in.

Winter sucks.  I dislike winter.  I dislike it with a passion.  The cold weather is hard on my skin…and definitely not easy to get out in and run.  Oh, I’ll do it…I just don’t like doing it.  And if the roads are trecherous…it means the outdoor run has to move indoors.  This would normally mean a treadmill at the gym…but being out of town meant no gym.

So…my first run of January was done in my friend’s kitchen.  My second run…on a treadmill.  My third…I almost went outside for.  But the 19 degree weather turned me back around and pushed me back into the warm cloak of my apartment.  I also woke up with a migraine that day…so I endured my job at the office and then went over to the gym to pound out half of my required training run that day.

BLAH!

But this morning, I told myself to SUCK IT UP, CUPCAKE!  So…I layered up the running clothes.  Put on my reflective gear and blinking lights.  And I headed outside for my first official outdoor run of the year.  4 miles.  As it’s an early morning run, I stick close to home, so this is a 3-time out and back…but it gives me my mileage.  The darkness is a bit of a challenge, but I do have a light clamped onto my hat.  And the cold…well…it sometimes leaves me gasping for air…but it feels so good to actually move while running.

While I understand the need for cold weather, I am already looking forward to Spring.  These cold mornings are doing a number on me.  But I am going to do my best, on the mornings where it is tolerable, to take my run outside.  Because, when it comes down to it…that’s where I love to run.

Here’s to one week of working toward my goal.  Ten miles 4 days into it the year…not a great start…but not bad either!  Given the circumstances, that is…


2012 Mileage

And the grand total for my 2012 running mileage is:



1104.8 MILES IN 2012!!!

Now I’m ready to start on my 2013 goal.  Thanks for some great runs, 2012!!

New Year, New Goal

GOAL: 1300 miles in 2013!
GOAL: 1300 miles in 2013!

Well…about this time last year I set what I thought was a lofty goal for 2012…to run 500 miles.  And I had that in the books by the middle of the year.  I had a silent goal to, perhaps, make 1200 miles in 2012, but with the injury that took me out of running for 2 weeks, it doesn’t look like I’ll make it.  I’ll be off by…just under 100  miles.  It kind of makes me sad, but it sure did make setting a goal for 2013 easier than anticipated.

And here it is:

In 2013, I intend to run 1300 miles.

There…I said it…and all of you are witnesses.

I think this is a little lofty…but I am hopefully going to be training for my first marathon…so mileage will be increasing at the start of the year when I put my training program into my phone and begin really looking ahead to the goal of going 26.2 miles this year.  I am nervous…and excited all at once.  And I love it.

I am also setting another goal…and that is to run 2013 injury free.  This one may or may not come into fruition.  I mean, accidents happen.  Injuries happen.  But I’m going to really focus on being a healthier, better runner.  I’m going to make better choices when it comes to my runs and really listen to my body.  I want to make this racing season a great one, with no DNS’ (Did Not Start) statuses and I hope to maintain my record of never having a DNF (Did Not Finish).

When all is said and done…goals are good to set…but the key to my running successes…the reason I can do this in brutal heat and bone-chilling cold…is that I truly love it.  So, above all else, I hope that 2013 teaches me how to love this sport even more than I do.  I have a good feeling that this is going to be a good year.